3 minute read

I fear that for some “net neutrality” may seem too much like an esoteric term that only “techies” are interested in.

But from the standpoint of this news publication, the issue of net neutrality is becoming more than a concern of tech insiders.

It’s a concern for anyone who values independent news and the ability of independent news to be distributed to anyone who wants it.

Something as simple as publishing an unvarnished report of the protest you see in the feature photo above could be stopped, embargoed until the public loses interest, or slowed to the point where photos don’t load.

You have a stake in this. Everyone who uses the internet does.

The internet as you know it allows you to read the news, collaborate with far flung members of your dev team, do your own research to be better informed or train for a better job.

The problem

The speed at which you can do this is the same as it is for any other internet user including the “bigs” like Facebook or Netflix.

And the only reason for that is the current set of rules in place at the Federal Communications Commission that regulates all things that have to do with the internet and the spectrum of broadcast frequencies.

But, now we are living with decisions of the Trump administration that consistently appoints heads of various parts of the U.S. government who are obviously in favor of making government benefit millionaires and billionaires even more than it already does.

Fast vote

So, Ajit Pai, Trump’s appointee to head the FCC now tips the balance of voting on the commission to the Republican side of politics.

Pai is fully and passionately for ending the neutrality of the internet as we know it.

He is pushing for the FCC to vote as early as Dec. 14 for ending the Obama-era rules that kept the internet an equally open space for all.

Instead, he and others want a kind of pay to play approach where the biggest providers of bandwidth can charge more for faster speeds.

Edged out

Since there is a limited amount of bandwidth, it is more than likely that the biggest content providers will spin up prices in their desire to outclass their competition.

And since it will be far more lucrative for providers to sell more and more bandwidth for higher prices, those small providers of content will get edged to the periphery of the internet.

Local, independent, online news like Free Press and hundreds of others won’t be able to compete with larger media organizations to pay for the speeds our readers enjoy now.

As Caitlin Johnstone argued in a recent blog post, corporatist, capitalist democracies don’t need to use government to censor dissent and counter narratives to the government’s line when corporations will do it for them.

The passionate argument against net neutrality is a surreptitious argument for allowing the largest corporations to determine who gets to use the internet to distribute news and who doesn’t.

Monopoly

Consolidation and monopoly are the natural trajectory of growing industries. That is very evident in the growth and monopolization of social media by outfits like Facebook.

It is not a far-fetched argument that if pay-for-play on the internet is allowed by the FCC, the process of corporatization and monopolization of news sources will move at far greater speeds than over the last 20 years.

That will have a direct impact on LIONs like Free Press.

People are accustomed to getting their news off the internet. If a site will not load nearly as fast or even at all compared to Facebook, then many of us will just take the easy route as we did over the last year and allow Facebook to amp up its effect on us.

Is that OK with you? It’s not for me and many others who are voicing grave concern for what is in the mix for the near future.

Call today

Contact your two senators and Congress member for the Congress to weigh in and legislate net neutrality. This is not about a “market.” It’s about corporate takeover of what has belonged to all of us so far.

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